Some Chipotle employees say they're thrilled the chain just cracked down on the '$3 burrito' ordering hack that was making their lives miserable

  • Some Chipotle customers were using a social media "hack" to get burrito-sized portions for just $3 by ordering tacos with extra sides.

  • Five workers told Insider that the hacks created a headache behind the scenes.

  • Workers said they couldn't meet service quotas because of how portioning out extra sides was so time-consuming.

Chipotle just cracked down on a viral hack that allowed customers to pay just $3 for a burrito, and some employees are thrilled.

Savvy customers figured out that by ordering a single taco plus each free topping on the side and a $.40 tortilla, they could create a dish similar to a regular burrito that would typically cost $9 or more. The idea spread on social media, particularly TikTok and other short-form video platforms.

Workers say it was a disaster behind the scenes. Five Chipotle workers in five states, who asked to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak to the press but whose identities are known to Insider, explained why they hated making the viral orders.

The orders were "beyond annoying and disruptive," a crew member in New York said because tacos disrupt the flow of the assembly line. Each taco ordered using this hack entailed up as many as eight sides that had to be separately portioned into cups and packed up, which is "more time consuming than you would think," the worker said.

A service manager in Ohio felt similarly. The taco orders would slow down the whole process for everyone, and customers would become upset. Those who used the ordering hack "would get aggressive when we put the proper taco-sized portions in the cups" instead of larger, burrito-sized portions on the side social media creators were touting, she told Insider.

They also noted it was a "huge waste of single-use plastic," to put every topping on the side in the cups.

"It was horribly obvious what [customers using the hack] were trying to do and it was just annoying for everyone trying to just do their jobs," she told Insider.

Chipotle put a stop to the hack on Wednesday.

"Guests are currently unable to order a single taco from our online ordering systems. While we have long embraced customizations and even released our own hack menu, the current social media trend is resulting in a poor experience for our food, our employees, and our customers waiting for orders," Chipotle told Insider in a statement.

Several workers told Insider that these complicated orders make it difficult or even impossible to hit goals measured by how many customers are served in a certain time frame. A manager in Texas confirmed that the side portions for tacos significantly increase those times, which can result in fewer hours for employees. It's a "waste of plastic, time, and inventory," a Midwestern worker said.

"Our employees are our greatest asset and we are committed to providing a positive experience for our teams and ultimately our guests," Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer, told Insider in a statement.

Huge demand for digital orders was already a problem for some Chipotle workers, who have previously told Insider that the orders come in faster than understaffed stores have the capacity to handle. Tacos and other ordering hacks only exacerbate those problems, employees said.

"We literally do not have the time for this," the New York worker said.

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